NPA raids Bukidnon police station; PNP probes personnel

MALAYBALAY CITY – About 50 armed men who identified themselves to be members of the communist New People’s Army raided the Malitbog police station afternoon of  May 3  and carted a total of 12 firearms in Bukidnon’s northeastern boundary with Misamis Oriental, P/Supt. Canilo Agua Fuentes, Bukidnon Provincial Police Office deputy, said.

Fuentes told Bukidnon News via telephone most of the attackers, who were dressed like army personnel, stood in the front side of the station while about 10 to 15 persons guarded the rear portion.

The attack, Fuentes told reporters earlier, which lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes starting 4:15p.m. was done with no shots fired.

The attackers carted eight M16 rifles, three 9mm pistols, a .357 pistol and three computer sets, Fuentes told RMN DXMB Wednesday morning.

The four police personnel on duty were tied and dragged by the attackers on their way out of the town proper, he told Bukidnon News. But they were later released unhurt in a remote site less than an hour after they withdrew, Fuentes added.

Residents, who witnessed the incident, Fuentes added, thought there was just an on-going drill because the attackers wore army uniform until they shouted “Long live the NPA.”

Fuentes told Bukidnon News as it is standard operating procedure, the Bukidnon Provincial Police Office and the Regional Provincial Police Office has placed the 19-member police force in Malitbog, including police chief Police Senior Inspector Alexander Eugenio under investigation.

Six officers were on-duty on the time of the attack. The two others were reported to have gone on patrol, Fuentes said.

He said the local police station received reports of sightings days before the attack. He said local residents have remained afraid after the incident. He assured that a joint pursuit operations between the policy and the 8th Infantry Battalion is on-going.

He said the police hierarchy will check if there was possible remission of duty that led to the attack.

“This will help us in policy-making and in learning from lessons of the incidents,” he added.

He said Sr. Supt. Rey Crestito Gonzalodo, Bukidnon police director, is assigning an officer-in-charge to take over the station while the probe is on-going.

There was no need to raise the alert level among Bukidnon’s 21 other police stations because it has already been on “full alert” even before the attack, Fuentes said.

Just hours before the attack, Fuentes said, Malitbog Mayor Aida dela Rosa just convened the Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) to address concerns including the sightings of armed men.

Dela Rosa asked the municipal employees to return to work and stay calm in her conversations with them Wednesday morning, a staff of her office who asked not to be named told Bukidnon News via telephone Wednesday afternoon.

The source said by 4:40p.m. Tuesday minutes after the attack the town hall was ordered closed as it may be the next target.

“People panicked but there were no commotions,” he added.

He said despite the checkpoints and roving forces in the poblacion, the town hall has resumed work and the town people seem to have returned to normal life.

He said the mayor is unable to respond to Bukidnon News request for interview as she is holding a meeting with army and police officials.

Provincial board member Jay Albarece, who chairs the peace and order committee, said the incident caught provincial officials by surprise.

“We are saddened by the attack,” he added. He said Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. just convened a peace consultation last week with both panels of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. (Walter I. Balane)

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